A diagnosis that left no hope and a mother who courageously chose to say “no” to euthanasia. But how could she explain this decision to her daughter who was only two and a half years old?
During the last days of her life, she wrote a letter that her daughter could read when she grew up. This mother is no longer with us but her family who found help in the spirituality of the Focolare Movement throughout this experience, has allowed the publication of her words. They offer them as testimony and food for thought on a complex, painful and very topical issue.
I haven’t written in a while. A lot has happened recently and, unfortunately, the situation is not good at all. My health has deteriorated in just one month. I was waiting for some results but the pain worsened very quickly. I was hospitalized for three weeks and then I completely lost the use of my legs.
It is very hard to write this letter to you. I want to talk about euthanasia and that is a difficult topic.
I want to leave this for you for when you are grown up and maybe you’ll think about death and ask yourself questions about dying. Next week I’ll have one last chemo treatment even though it doesn’t seem to be helping now and maybe I will have an operation that should enable me to eat because I can’t do that anymore.
If this surgery doesn’t work, there’s not much more to do. The options are how and where to die.
In short, I have decided that I want to die at home. I won’t go into all the painful details, but it’s where I feel most comfortable. Dad will explain everything else when you’re older. I’ll keep to the point – I want to tell you why I have decided not to die through euthanasia.
I have been thinking a lot but in the end I have decided that I will ask God to accompany me on this journey and, if it means facing death, then that is the way it is – there are no shortcuts and this is no time for cowardice. I am convinced that God teaches us something in that moment of passage and that we must face it just as we face the passage of birth.
I am writing to you because I wonder if you will ever think about these things and since I have spent so much time analysing everything from different points of view, maybe one of my ideas could help you.
Everything started with me thinking that if death is imminent, why should we wait so long for it? If there is no hope of recovery, why should we let human beings suffer and leave them to a game where there is no one to join in with them?
I have learned that it’s because this is a process – a preparatory process – and without it we would not be able to take the next step and go where it will take us. We should let God guide us because he knows everything.
Lately, I have been thinking about those people who have not been able to take this step in the right way. To me it seems as if they were lost in limbo, between our earthly existence and the afterlife, unable to move forward towards heaven or return to earth, to their loved ones.
So I finally realized the road to euthanasia isn’t for me. I am afraid to die in pain and I pray to God to be merciful and forgiving when the time comes. Hopefully, he’ll take me away, freeing me from pain and from my body.
And this is the part that concerns me, the part that I alone will have to face.
This is where I find myself today my love: the path ahead is difficult.
And yet, I have the support of so many people who help me and my family.
I receive lots of spiritual help from a priest friend but there are still moments of fear and dismay – although, I must say, there are not as many as I thought there would be. I feel supported by a strength without knowing where it comes from. I see clearly that my days are ending – nonetheless, I don’t feel downhearted. It is not easy, obviously, but fear is not part of my day.”
Edited by Anna Lisa Innocenti